During fall semester last year, I (Mike) received an email from an intern asking for help. Here’s part of it:
As part of my classes for my three week block I have picked up a Social Studies 30 course. This past week we have been discussing the concept of standard of living and looking at the different standards across Canada . I tried to introduce this concept from the perspective of the First Nations people of Canada and my class was very confused about the topic and in many cases made some racist remarks. I have tried to reintroduce the concept but they continue to treat it as a joke.
The teachers at this school are very lax on the topic of Treaty Education as well as First Nations ways of knowing. I have asked my Coop for advice on Treaty Education and she told me that she does not see the purpose of teaching it at this school because there are no First Nations students. I was wondering if you would have any ideas of how to approach this topic with my class or if you would have any resources to recommend.
This is a real issue in schools – use your blog to craft a response to this student’s email. Consider the following questions:
1. What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?
I believe that the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed in schools is to teach our history. To understand where we come from, and what happened, is important. Regardless of whether there is a low indigenous population in the school, it is still something that all students need to be educated on. It has been said that “we are all treaty people”, but often times, the meaning behind that statement is not understood. I believe that by living on treaty land, that is what makes us all treaty people, regardless of whether you were born here or moved here.
BEFORE: how do you think that school curricula are developed? This is an entry point to this topic and whatever you write will be fine.
AFTER: How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you? IMPORTANT – Please write your blog before our lecture as YOUR OPINION will be an integral part of the lecture.
BEFORE: I think that school curriculum is developed by a group of professionals who gather together and decide what should be taught. I think they decide what should be taught based on what skills/ abilities/ knowledge children will need in order to be successful in their future educational and professional careers.
After reading this week’s article, I’ve come to realize that there is much more to the curriculum development process than I initially thought. Curriculum development teams get together and have discussions and debates over two points. The first discussion is about what subjects should be included or excluded and how much teaching time should be focussed on each topic. The second discussion is about the content of each subject and what should or shouldn’t be included. Next, groups of experts are brought together to discuss the elements of a new or revised curriculum. This process consists of examining the existing curriculum, deciding upon the strengths and weaknesses in the current curriculum, considering various ideas for changes, and arriving at an agreement on recommendations for a new or revised curriculum. Often times, curriculum development is a very long process, and can sometimes take several years to complete.
Something that I had never considered before reading this article was the problems that having an expert-dominated curriculum development team could have. The article points out that if subject experts have the most prominent voice in curriculum development, it will become very difficult to be taught effectively. Most teachers do not have the level of knowledge and expertise that the experts do, which will make teaching tough for anyone other than these subject experts. In attempts to avoid this situation, it has become more common for parents, students, and non-educators to have a place in the curriculum development teams.
Choose a quotation related to education. It might be a quote from lecture, a quote from the list posted here, or a quote you found independently. In a post, unpack that quote. Think about what it makes possible and impossible in education. What does it say about the teacher, about the student? How does it related to your own understandings of curriculum and of school?
“We as educators need to reconsider our roles in students’ lives, to think of ourselves as connectors first and content experts second.”
As a future teacher, I strongly believe that establishing a positive relationship with the students is ideal for their success. Will Richardson said that “as educators, [we] need to reconsider our roles in students’ lives, to think of ourselves as connectors first and content experts second”. I liked this quote because it mentions that an important role of a teacher is to make connections with and for the students, rather than loading them up with information and leaving them to decipher it for themselves. I think that if teachers are able to develop a good relationship with their students, it will allow the student to feel comfortable and confident in the classroom setting. I believe that by being ‘connectors’ and then ‘experts’ second, teachers are allowing for the students to feel comfortable in their learning environment and feeling confident to ask questions and make new connections on their own. I think this is important because when I was younger, I had a teacher who did not make connections with her students and often dismissed the students’ attempts to share thoughts and ideas. This way of teaching led to her students feeling very distant and insecure with their learning and class work. On the other hand, however, I have also had a teacher who worked very hard to make a connection with each student in his class. The classroom dynamics between these two teachers were incredibly different and looking back, I see a major difference in the level of success I had in the second class compared to the first.
While I believe that is important for teachers to be able to make connections with their students, I also know that it can not always be possible in every situation. Some students can be very quiet and reserved, making it difficult for teachers to try and build a connection and form a relationship. A second difficulty in making this possible in all classrooms is the amount of students in a classroom. Teachers with smaller class sizes have an advantage opposed to a teacher or professor who has a class of over 75 students.
Curriculum development from a traditionalist perspective is widely used across schools in Canada and other countries. Can you think about: (a) The ways in which you may have experience the Tyler rationale in your own schooling? (b) What are the major limitations of the Tyler rationale? (c) What are some potential benefits?
- a) Looking back on my 8 years of elementary school, 4 years of high school and 1 year of university, I found that many of my teachers taught using the Tyler rationale. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it seems to be an effective and beneficial approach to teaching and learning. In elementary school, I can remember receiving handouts with a chart and three sections. The objectives section was already filled out and then the other two (identify and organize) sections were left blank, which was for us to fill out ourselves. I remember the first few times I received these charts, I was confused and unsure of what was supposed to belong in the empty sections. However, later on in elementary school, if I was able to fill in the “identify” and “organize” sections easily, I knew that I understood what I had been taught. Often times, we were asked to do a self evaluation (using a rubric) and I think that it was another useful way for me to know what I had to work on a bit more and what I knew I had grasped.
- b) While Tyler’s model is very well-known and widely used, I think that there are some limitations and some missing elements to his approach. I believe that Tyler’s rationale focuses more on the content rather than the students. While Tyler’s method worked for me and my learning style, it may be different for other students. It’s important to recognize that all students learn differently, and if teachers do want to use this method, it would be best to mix it up and not use this same approach for multiple consecutive lessons (like many of my elementary school teachers did).
- c) I think that while there are some limitations to Tyler’s method, I think that it can be not only an effective way for teachers to teach, but also a beneficial way for students to learn. I believe that because the first step in Tyler’s approach is to state the purposes or objectives of the lesson, it helps students to know what it is they need to understand to be able to grasp the new concept or information being taught. If the student is later able to identify and then organize the new concepts previously learned, it then serves as an effective indicator of how well the student has absorbed the lesson. If the teacher decides to have the students do a self-evaluation at the end of the project, it is a good way for the students to see what areas they could use improvement in and which areas they know and understand well.
Respond to the following writing prompt: How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘common sense’?
Common sense, as defined by Kumashiro, is something that everyone should know or be familiar with. It is a certain view point or idea that a society has collectively and subconsciously agreed upon and accepted. He mentions that once something becomes ‘common sense’ it can be difficult to challenge or move away from because it has been something that’s been traditionally accepted and it provides a kind of comfort to stick with what is known. It is important to note, however, that what is common knowledge to one society could be something that is very unfamiliar to a second society. For example, when Kumashiro talks about his teaching experience in Nepal, many of the ‘common sense’ practices to the Nepali culture were all new to Kumashiro and it took time to learn and understand these practices. It is important to pay attention to the ‘common sense’ because it is something that is usually followed daily and it can help us to understand different practices of different cultures. Kumashiro talks of his experiences in Nepal and says that while teaching his Nepali students, he tried to implement some of the newer teaching techniques that are common in America. His students were quite unfamiliar with such ways of learning, and often asked him to stick with the teaching methods that they had been accustomed to and were now comfortable with. While common sense can provide comfort, Kumashiro mentions that it needs to be examined and challenged in order for growth and development to occur.